Preventing Kitchen Fires When Cooking

When it comes to fires, the most at-risk area of your home is the kitchen. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 49 percent of all house fires involve cooking equipment.

That’s why, for this year’s Fire Prevention Week, the NFPA announced that the theme is Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen.

“Cooking continues to be a major contributor to the home fire problem,” Lorraine Carli, NFPA Vice President of Outreach and Advocacy, said in a press release. “The good news is that the vast majority of these fires are highly preventable. This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign works to better educate the public about where potential cooking hazards exist and basic but critical ways to prevent them.”

The restoration and prevention specialists at Paul Davis of Northern Indiana agree with this sentiment, including Steve Leffers, an associate at Paul Davis who is certified in fire and smoke restoration.

“I've been at Paul Davis for 27 years,” he said, “and I would say that's got to be the most common origin.”

Fire Safety Concerns in the Kitchen

While fires can occur anywhere in your home for a variety of reasons, most fires in the kitchen ignite due to user error. That is, most start because the stove or oven is left unattended.

“In kitchen-related fires, a lot of them are attributed to cooking situations and negligence,” Leffers said.

Leffers once was called to fire damage at a home where a man took his dog for a long walk in the midst of frying eggs on a skillet. While that may be an extreme example, any time you leave cooking food unattended, you could be at risk for a fire.

Occasionally, electronic appliances such as an oven, microwave or toaster oven can malfunction and cause a fire, but that’s much less common.

How to Help Prevent Kitchen Fires

First and foremost, whenever you’re cooking, never leave your stove or oven unattended. It may seem innocent to watch television for a few minutes in the other room while a pan is heating up, but a flame can spark at any moment.

It’s also important to make sure flammable cooking items, such as food utensils, packaging, oven mitts, etc. are kept several feet away from a stove top. Also, never use cooking spray when a pan is already over an open flame.

If you’ve consumed alcohol or feel tired, using an oven or stove may be ill-advised.

Lastly, it’s recommended that you have at least one fire extinguisher on hand in the kitchen.

Be Wary of Grease Fires

When dealing with kitchen fires, it’s important to be especially careful when cooking grease-heavy items or using lots of oil, because grease fires are extremely dangerous.

“They can be extraordinary, especially around Thanksgiving,” Leffers said. “That's when we get most of those because somebody is trying to do a deep-fried turkey.”

The issue is that grease fires cannot be put out with water. In fact, water will only intensify the flames.

Instead, grease fires must be smothered and starved of oxygen. Typically, the best and most convenient items to use are a pan lid or cooking sheet. Then turn off the oven and/or stove. Salt or baking soda can be used to smother small grease fires but be wary of using other items, as their chemical makeup may intensify the fire.

As a last resort, grab your fire extinguisher. If that doesn’t work, dial 911 and exit your home immediately.

In Need of a Fire Restoration Expert?

The aftermath of a house or building fire is a stressful time. Restoration specialists like Steve Leffers at Paul Davis of Northeast Indiana will be there for you after a fire. Their experts at dealing with insurance companies and know exactly what to do to restore your home back to its previous state.

For more information, call us at 260-436-7510.

Fire Restoration: How Paul Davis Restores Buildings After Fires

House fires can start in an instant. All it takes is an unattended pot catching fire on the stove, poor interior wiring, malfunctioning electrical equipment or a candle that’s accidentally knocked over.

Thanks in part to modern fire safety technological advancements, less than 2 percent of residential fires result in injuries, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. But in most instances, there may still be significant damage to your home or business. This can include your walls and carpet or various items such as clothing, furniture and electronics.

Even if the actual flames were not significant, smoke can near-ruin almost any item.

“Portions of the property that were not touched by the fire could still be affected by smoke damage,” said Rebecca Serratos, emergency services manager of Paul Davis of Northeast Indiana. “The severity of the smoke damage depends on what burned in the fire, how long it burned, the distance from the source of the fire, and many other factors.”

That’s why, after any fire, you’ll want to contact a fire restoration specialist immediately to begin the process of rehabilitating your home.

First Steps

After you contact a restoration specialist such as Paul Davis, the first thing you’ll be advised to do is to make sure your home is protected from outside elements. For instance, your roof or a hole in an exterior wall may need to be boarded up.

Just be careful to not do anything that might interfere with an ongoing fire investigation. Depending on the extent of the fire damage, you will likely need permission from the fire department to re-enter your home. Ask the department at this time what you can, should or shouldn’t do in your home, such as boarding up windows, and follow their instructions.

It may also be helpful to take both interior and exterior photos of your home to document the damage. From there, a restoration expert will arrive on site as soon as possible.

“When arriving on site, the first thing a restoration expert will do is evaluate the need for emergency services including additional temporary repairs, removal of personal property, and mitigating fire and/or water damage in the property,” Serratos said. “In regards to the home itself and all personal property, the salvageability is determined by the severity of the fire damage and the cost of restoration versus replacement.”

The Restoration Process

Some items are more affected by fire and smoke than others. When it comes to the amount of damage caused, the the origin of the fire matters.

“Fires where natural materials burn are the easiest to clean,” Serratos said. “Most fires are a mix of natural and synthetic materials, such as plastics. These can be more difficult because the soot is oily and smears easily. The most difficult type of smoke damage to remediate is from a protein fire. Protein fires have a strong odor, and they leave behind residues that are challenging to remove.”

Additionally, porous items are more difficult to restore because they more readily absorb smoke and undesirable odors. But even in cases of extreme smoke damage, not all is lost.

“With proper cleaning and deodorization, some items can be salvaged,” Serratos said.

Most items will be restored carefully with various cleaning solutions.

In the end, some items will be damaged beyond repair, but it’s important that property owners do not attempt to determine which of their belongings fall into this category. Leave that to a professional.

“Property owners should refrain from touching items and disposing of personal property until they have spoken with the adjuster and received directions for how to report non-salvageable items to the insurance company,” Serratos said. “I would also recommend that property owners consult with a restoration professional before trying to do any cleaning on their own. If the cleaning is not done properly, it can create more damage.”

In Need of a Fire Restoration Specialist?

The aftermath of a house or building fire is a stressful time. Emergency Services experts like Rebecca Serratos of Paul Davis of Northeast Indiana will be there for you after a fire to your home or business, helping to restore your property and your life back to normal.

For more information, call 260-436-7510 or visit

How Paul Davis Removes Mold in Your Home

The process of removing mold from your home may seem simple enough. You just need to find the black spots on your wall or ceiling, grab a wet rag and wipe them away or knock out a portion of the drywall.

Problem solved.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy and all you’re likely going to accomplish is putting your family at risk by releasing the mold spores into the air without actually solving the problem.

“When people try to do this, they are causing themselves even more harm,” said Steven Mwaniki, an environmental specialist at Paul Davis.

While some mold may be visible, it’s often also in the cavities of your wall or beneath a surface. That’s why, even though eradicating mold may seem simple enough to resolve on your own, it’s a problem that should be dealt with by trained professionals.

But what does Paul Davis and its staff look for when determining if a mold problem is serious enough to require their services? How is the mold adequately removed and how is the safety of workers and members of a household prioritized? We’ve got your answers.

What Paul Davis Looks For

If you’re concerned that mold is causing a problem in your home, the first thing Paul Davis will do is send someone to assess the situation and conduct a visual inspection.

“I will do that myself,” Mwaniki said. “I’ll go there, and I'll do a visual inspection. Let's see if we can see anything. Let's see if there are cold pockets. Let's see if your structure is dry. I do take the moisture mapping in the whole house. Areas that I think there might be mold, like underneath the sink, a crawl space, attics, and other at-risk areas.”

From there, even if Mwaniki doesn’t find any signs of mold, he will still use a particle count machine, which measures the quality of the air in your home. If the results are concerning, he and Paul Davis will further assess the air.

“That's when then we can call an indoor environmental professional to come and do the air quality testing and actually find out what is going on,” Mwaniki said.

The Process of Removing Mold

If Mwaniki determines that a portion of your interior walls needs to be removed and replaced, he and his team members will return wearing the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). This will protect the Paul Davis team from mold spores that are already in the air. Their attire is also effective again COVID-19, which will increase the safety of themselves, as well as you and your family.

Paul Davis will contain the necessary areas to prevent cross-contamination so that the mold spores do not accidentally spread to other areas of your home.

Then it’s time to use a special vacuum to suck up any mold living on the surface of your walls, ceilings or on other areas of your home. Once that’s complete, Mwaniki can determine which surfaces must be removed and then do so without releasing additional spores into the air. His goal will be to leave as much of your walls and ceilings intact.

The final step will be someone from Paul Davis replacing the drywall and returning your home to its previous state.

Worried about mold in your home? Call 260-436-7510 24 hours a day.

Steven Mwaniki, an environmental specialist, is available to talk through your potential mold concerns, examine your home and find the best solution to keep your household safe from the toxic issues mold may cause.

“I make a point of giving people a free consultation,” Mwaniki said. “I'd rather spend 10 minutes with somebody trying to walk through the processes and guidelines and they end up not needing mold removal services than see that person get sick.”

Tips for Preventing Major Storm Damage To Your Home

Throughout the Midwest, a swift change in the weather can turn a sunny and cloudless day into a torrential downpour or elicit a loud, continuous screech from tornado sirens.

In any instances of severe weather, the first priority is the safety of people—getting your loved ones inside and away from windows.

Once a plan is in place to keep everyone safe, it’s time to consider how to protect your home from major storm damage. While your first thought may be of a boarded-up home on the coast of Florida during a tropical storm, there are actually several (mostly inexpensive) preventative measures that you can take to keep your home safe from adverse effects of Mother Nature right here in the Midwest.

Clean. Out. Your. Gutters.

Many homeowners often put off the arduous task of climbing a ladder and clearing out a gross combination of sprouting vegetation and mushy debris from their gutters. It is laborious, dirty and brings with it certain safety hazards.

When you do clean out your gutters, you will do more than beautify the outside of your home.

When rain falls into your gutters from the roof and does not have a clear path to drain, the strain from the additional weight can cause them to break off from the house, causing further damage to your home. It’s important to routinely clean your gutters and, the more often you do it, the easier it will be.

Locate Dead Trees and Limbs

Other common yet often preventable hazards are dead or loose tree limbs that hangover or near your home. In many cases, all it takes is a strong wind for them to snap or knock free and fall onto your home, causing structural damage to your roof or siding and letting the elements inside.

Especially in the spring and summer, when branches are covered with sprouted leaves and flowers, it’s easy to spot which limbs are dead and which are healthy and strong (dead branches won’t produce leaves).

Depending on the equipment you have and the height and size of the dead or decaying branches, this may be a job you perform safely on your own or it could be time to hire an outside contractor.

While hiring a contractor can be expensive, it’s still cheaper than repairing your roof and is especially important when working near powerlines.

Effective Landscaping

While trees and their limbs may be the biggest threat to the roof and exterior of your home, the layout/structure of your lawn may also be impactful.

Most people like to surround their home with flower beds walled off by some sort of edging, whether that’s stone or metal. While this looks neat and creates a clear barrier, this can also hold water near the foundation of your home and cause your basement to flood during heavy rain.

Another landscaping issue can be ground slopes that run toward your home. This can lead water toward your home, which can also cause your basement to flood or even damage the foundation.

Take a look at your landscaping for these issues and try to repair them before the next major storm hits our area.

Reinforce and Repair Exterior

There are several additional preventative measures you can take to weatherize your home. One common precautious is to install storm windows, which will better withstand Mother Nature’s rage.

It’s also vital to look for damage to your home caused by previous bouts with severe storms or natural wear and tear.

Is your home roof missing any shingles? Are there cracks or loose pieces of siding? Are your doors and windows properly sealed?

All these repairs can be done over the course a few hours and will go a long way in helping your home withstand the long- and short-term effects of severe storms.

Has your home experienced storm damage? Are you worried about the adverse effects of the next major storm on your home? Reach out to Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling at 800-436-7510 and our team of experts will be able to help you.